Omaha businessman dies after multiple bee stings

Bee Stings Kill Omaha Businessman

Steve Parsow managed Parsow's Fashion for Men, an upscale clothing company at Regency Court that his father founded 50 years ago.

He was mowing the lawn when a swarm of bees attacked his leg. He was stung 12-15 times, sending him into anaphylactic shock, and killing him at the age of 48.

Immediately after being stung, Mr. Parsow seemed fine, then his hand began to swell. The family called 911 and gave him Benadryl, but by the time the paramedics arrived, he "slipped into unconsciousness and lost his pulse."

His wife, Debra, said he had no known allergy to bee stings, but a local doctor says it's unlikely someone would die from that number of stings without an allergy or some other underlying condition.

"Just shut him down, "says his brother David. He says he watched as doctors used shock paddles and tried to revive his younger brother in the ER. "It's already been how many minutes? They told us from the start there wasn't a beat. They could not get a beat."

The 48 year old Mr. Parsow was healthy and was running 6 miles a day every day at 4 AM.

There are over 50 reported deaths per year due to insect stings in the U.S. The most common stinging insects are bees and wasps. They can cause severe allergic reactions including anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock.

A yellow jacket wasp with a typical narrow waist (left) and a honey bee with a fat hairy "fuzzy" body (right). Image source: Wikipedia 1, 2, GNU Free Documentation License.

IgE antibodies to Hymenoptera venom are present in 20-30% of adults who had an insect sting in the previous 2-3 years.

Systemic allergic reactions occur in 1% of children and 3% of adults. Children generally have a more benign course after insect stings because they usually have only cutaneous systemic reactions. Remember:

Cutaneous only


The onset of generalized reactions is usually within 10 minutes of a sting.

Acute management of anaphylaxis

Drugs: EASI

pinephrine IM
Antihistamines PO, IM
Steroids PO, IM, IV
Inhaled b2-agonists, if wheezing

Mind map of insect venom allergy. See more mind maps from

Mind map diagram of anaphylaxis.

Bee Sting Allergies Explained by Robert M. Overholt, M.D.

Venom Allergy: A Short Review.
Anaphylactic Shock Due to Bee Sting
Large Skin Reaction to Insect Bites and Stings: Is it Dangerous and What to Do?
A Rare Bee Attack Kills Well Known Clothing Store Owner. Action3 News.
Bee stings fatal for Omaha businessman. Omaha World-Herald.

CNN: Skateboarder's death underscores insect allergy risks. 5 percent of Americans are at risk for a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction from insect stings

Updated: 08/15/2009

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